The Wrong Turn franchise has been around since the first outing in 2003. The films are ultimately about these twisted backwood cannibals in West Virginia. The first movie was a solid, but unremarkable outing that barely made an impact at the box office. Still, horror movies tend to be cheap so the franchise continued with a string of direct-to-DVD releases. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End actually received positive feedback, and is currently the highest-rated film in the franchise with a good 70% score on rotten tomatoes. The series continued on by producing four more movies before its 2021 reboot and the franchise became a mockery of everything wrong with modern horror. So, why are the original Wrong Turn films after the second so bad? Let’s dive deeper into this horror franchise. To be clear, this article is mainly focused on Wrong Turn’s 3 through 6, so if you want to still check out the reboot then worry not as nothing here applies to the 2021 update.
Once the Wrong Turn franchise turned t0 exclusive DVD films then any hopes of this series being good should’ve been out the window. However, Wrong Turn 2 turned out to be a nice surprise, it was actually a good film that featured likable characters and some sweet kills. The story was basic, but nothing that would insult the intelligence of its core audience. Then as the series moved on, it was clear that the films cared more about inventive and gore kills vs. a coherent story with respectable characters. Granted, this was mostly the trend for most horror films for a good portion of the 2000s until films like The Conjuring or Get Out saw the genre make somewhat a shift in its storytelling department.
There’s no denying that the Wrong Turn franchise is packed with cool kills. In fact, I could easily make a top ten list featuring the best kills in the series; however, the issue lies with the fact that audiences have to suffer through bad storytelling in order to see these cool kills. In an age where you can skip the entire movie and just watch the kills on Youtube, there needs to be more of a reason to watch a franchise that has been a narrative mess. The Wrong Turn franchise checks off classic horror movie tropes with ease; hot protagonists who have borderline pornographic sex (and this series loves sex), yet make some of the most illogical and laughable choices that end up with them dead. The films become frustrating for anyone who wants to sit through this drivel because of how terribly written the characters are. The villains are no better. The cannibals of these films do nothing more than kill, eat, and torture. It all becomes repetitive stuff. Even the prequel, Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, turns into a typical Wrong Turn film of pretty young things being killed off. We get a bit more of a backstory about the cannibals who headline these films, but the story doesn’t truly explore their nature or history.
We get the generic, they were in an insane asylum backstory that ends with a murderous riot that sees several notable kills, including one that’s very Saw like and then it skips ahead a couple of years to a steamy sex scene with four of the protagonists. Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines brings back the father, which is played by a different actor. The film notably goes out of its way to make its characters stupid, especially Sheriff Angela. Then it has the mean-spirited ending of a poor girl – whose eyes were ripped out by Maynard – being taken in by Maynard and his cannibal sons; He promises to rape the young lady before killing her off, despite the fact that she actually tried to help him earlier in the film. The movie ends with her screaming as she’s stuck in a car with a group of murderous brutes. The straight to DVD movies seem to glorify violence without any consequences for the antagonists. The cannibals never get their comeuppance since the filmmakers are clearly trying to milk a somewhat dead franchise. Even though the cast is full of interchangeable and stupid characters, it becomes an unhealthy and ugly exercise in torture and death porn. None of this is scary. Nor is it fun. Since it’s hard to connect with anyone onscreen, these films are essentially a slog to get through. Perhaps I’m being a bit too mean since these are direct-to-DVD ports? Then again, so was Wrong Turn 2, Trick ‘r Treat, or Curse and Cult of Chucky. Being a direct to DVD feature doesn’t give a film a pass for being bad. The movies are lazy exercises in storytelling and thankfully, horror movies today are shifting away from this type of horror film.